Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Dirty Shell

Shell has been accused of making false claims about the extent of its clean-up operations in Nigeria. Amnesty International in collaboration with Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) through a report have rebuffed claims made by Shell oil company that it has cleaned up the heavily polluted areas in the Niger Delta region. Thirteen out of 15 areas visited between July and September this year were still "visibly polluted" or contaminated, despite claims to the contrary by Shell and the government. "When you visit these communities, the first thing you notice is the stench of crude oil," says Makmid Kamara, a business and human rights campaigner at Amnesty International. At one of the sites, the oil spill happened 45 years ago and Shell claims to have cleaned it up twice.

Amnesty International, said that: "By inadequately cleaning the pollution from its pipelines and wells, shell is leaving thousands of women, men and children exposed to contaminated land, water and air, in some cases for years or even decades."

Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, a human rights and environmental activist from Port Harcourt, said in a statement. "Ogoniland is still polluted ... no clean-up has been done ... justice has not been achieved. Twenty years and what they fought for has not been addressed. That cannot continue."

Shell operates around 50 oil fields and 5,000 km of pipelines in the region. According to the company's own figures, it is responsible for 1,693 oil spills since 2007. The researchers from Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), however, believe that actual figures are even higher. In some areas, the environmental pollution has been taking place for decades, robbing the communities of their land and their livelihood. With this report, the rights groups hope to ensure that Shell as the region's biggest oil company takes responsibility and restores the land to a state where it is arable again. Nigerian law is very clear on the matter. When a spill occurs, the responsible company has to clean that spill within 24 hours. Yet according to the report, the problem lies in the implementation of that law. The Nigerian watchdog, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) is under-resourced and has in several cases certified areas as clean that are still visibly polluted. Moreover, says the report, areas which are cleaned up, have only been cleaned superficially. "This is just a cover up," one contractor hired by Shell, reportedly told the researchers. "If you just dig down a few meters you find oil."

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